Young players are being counted on to excel quickly for the Hilliard Darby High School boys lacrosse team this spring.
The Panthers return only one senior and three juniors from last season, when they finished 1-17 overall after losing to Cincinnati Sycamore 12-0 in a Division I Southwest Region tournament play-in game.
Darby went 1-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish sixth, behind co-champions New Albany (5-1) and Olentangy (5-1) as well as Gahanna (4-2), Olentangy Liberty (4-2) and Bradley (2-4) and ahead of Olentangy Orange (0-6).
Defender Alex Martin is the lone senior and the juniors are attacker Josh Cundiff, midfielder Caleb Ervin and defender Skyler Link.
"Many of our key returners happen to be sophomores," fourth-year coach Rob Schmeling said. "Our senior leadership will be from Alex Martin, who brings great intensity to our team."
The Panthers have 11 sophomores in Daniel Brashear (attacker), Kaden Calliari (defender), Jordan Coppess (goalkeeper), Andrew Deaner (midfielder), Evan Forsythe (midfielder), Simon McDaniels (defender), Ryan Rampi (attacker), Blake Skinner (midfielder), Max Weese (attacker), Lucas Wende (midfielder) and Chris Yeager (defender) and five freshmen in Zackaria El-Geroushi (midfielder), Zach Hooker (defender), Kelly Logan (goalie), Tristen Rogers (defender) and Mason Schmeling (midfielder).
"The strength of our team is our youth and they are all wanting to learn," said coach Schmeling, whose team was 1-2 overall before playing Miamisburg on April 10 and is 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio. "They have come together in the offseason and really showed that they are wanting to work hard for each other.
"Most importantly, (getting) playing experience will benefit our program. We have many players who have never played lacrosse before and many that are very young in experience at this level."
Seniors leading way for Bradley girls
An eight-player senior class is leading the Bradley girls team, which was 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Davidson on April 10.
"This year's senior class has been a huge part of our team from the beginning of the program," said Kristen Murray, an assistant under fourth-year coach Becky Mottlow. "We have gotten to watch all of them grow and improve immensely to be very strong and confident players."
Last season, Bradley finished 12-5 overall, losing to eventual state runner-up Upper Arlington 18-3 in a Division I South/Central Region semifinal after defeating Darby 17-8 in the first round and Westerville South 15-5 in the second round.
The Jaguars went 4-2 in the OCC-Ohio last season, tying Orange for second behind Liberty (6-0) and ahead of Olentangy (3-2), Dublin Scioto (2-3), Dublin Jerome (1-5) and Davidson (0-6). Olentangy and Scioto did not complete their league game.
Among the key returnees are senior midfielder Mackenzie Mignery, senior attackers Kwynn Herr and Jessica Rains and senior goalie Amanda Capriato.
Last year, Mignery was second-team all-state and first-team all-region and all-league, Herr was second-team all-region and first-team all-league, Rains was second-team all-league and Capriato was honorable mention all-region and all-league.
Rounding out the senior class are Hannah Jasper (attacker), Sam Minnich (defender), Kirsten Tindal (midfielder) and Nicole Tindal (midfielder).
Also on the team are juniors Malina Hay (defender), Victoria Kong (attacker) and Tieda Ven (attacker), sophomores Abby Allen (defender), Alex Anton (midfielder), Hannah Kelley (attacker), Kyra Loughridge, (attacker), Libby Rains (defender), Sarah Sprague (defender) and Morgan Wareham (goalie) and freshman Grace Anton (defender).
"A big strength of our team is that we have a lot of hard workers who don't give up," Murray said. "The team really is a great group of players who love the sport and don't shy away from challenges."